Local Non-Profits to Host Voting Rights Restoration Fair on September 13 at Maryvale Community Center

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
September 10, 2008 12:00 am

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PHOENIX – Local community leaders representing a broad coalition of non-profit groups from across the Valley will host a “Voting Rights Restoration Fair” on September 13 to help people with felony convictions – who have already served their time – regain their right to vote.

The “Voting Rights Restoration Fair” will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 13 at the Maryvale Community Center, 4420 N 51st Avenue, in Phoenix. Individuals interested in participating in the fair should call the ACLU of Arizona at (602) 650-1854 ext. 5 to schedule their appointment. This event is free and open to the public.

While walk-ins will be accepted, people are strongly encouraged to RSVP. Applicants should bring copies of their certificate of absolute discharge from prison or probation, along with copies of their criminal records.

The fair will provide participants with one-on-one assistance, required forms, and all the information they need to apply to restore their civil rights, including the right to vote, serve on a jury and run for some public office.

It is being sponsored by: ACLU of Arizona, Arizona Advocacy Network, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Maricopa Public Defender’s Office and Middle Ground Prison Reform.

Arizona’s felon voting ban is one of the strictest in the nation, with one of every 23 (4.34%) citizens unable to vote. The state maintains the 8th highest rate of disenfranchisement in the nation. An estimated 176,103 persons are disenfranchised in the state as a result of a felony conviction. Nearly 44% of the individuals impacted by the voting ban have already completed their criminal sentences.

Although the state has a relatively modest black population, the disenfranchisement rate for African Americans is the third highest nationally, with one of every five (21.08%) adults ineligible to vote. The impact on Latinos and Native Americans in Arizona is of particular concern. According to a MALDEF report on the impact of disenfranchisement laws on the Latino community, 5.50% of all Latinos of voting age in Arizona are denied the right to vote because of the felon voting ban. Data detailing the impact on the Native American is relatively unknown, however, in a state that disqualified Native Americans from voting because they were under “federal guardianship,” it’s particularly disturbing that Arizona continues to enforce a felon voting ban that undoubtedly strips Native Americans of their voting rights in large numbers.

The groups sponsoring the September 13 fair believe that restoring the right to vote strengthens democracy by increasing voter participation, helps people reintegrate into their communities after serving sentences, and gives those convicted a political voice.

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